Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Staying in Kitakami

Kitakami River
Although I spent a lot of time in Hiraizumi, we did not stay there as the accommodation options were both expensive and unappealing. Instead, we stayed in Kitakami (about 30 minutes north by train).

Kitakami itself isn't really that notable: we selected it primarily for transport reasons (because it's on the right train lines). The Kitakami river does flow right through town (and right next to our hotel) and a public park lines the banks. The park is full of cherry trees (it's "one of the best 100 places in Japan for cherry blossom viewing" per their promotional literature, which seems like a rather humble claim to me) and is quite scenic, even in winter.
View from our hotel window: those are cherry trees below
There's our hotel on the right, from down the river
Lots of wildfowl in the river, of many different varieties
The geese were most notable
Tiny shrine I liked
Impressively long icicles
It's a pleasant town but nothing special. Everyone was extremely friendly though, especially to R: she made out like a bandit at every restaurant, store, etc. with all the little presents of toys and sweets she received. I also left my wallet and passport at reception (I know, so flaky) and the hotel manager CHASED me down the street in his CAR in order to give it back to me.
It was a Western style hotel (though very big for Japan): R's favorite thing by far was the phone (we had to unplug it to prevent her from calling reception every 5 minutes)
Everyone was also really nice to B in terms of parenting (since he was by himself most of the day with R), like old ladies swooping down on R to amuse her, dress her and feed her. This isn't only limited to Japan though: a single father is a hero, while a single mother probably did something wrong, and can't she keep that kid quiet? This phenomenon is so common that now I always make B walk R around on our airplane trips (because if I do it, the staff will yell at me for taking up aisle space; but if he does it, they fawn over both R and B). It's funny how different the expectations are for mothers and fathers.
R is happy because Daddy is holding her: she thinks he's the fun one

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